In the Star Trek Universe where did the Q come from? I mean before they were Q in the Q Continuum? In Star Trek Voyager you learn that the race is somewhat intolerant of individualism (in the episode of the Q Civil War) but Q also suggest they have always been Q. Is that statement true, have the Q always been the Q? or were they a race that evolved into omniscience?
They are a race that became sufficiently advanced. They're likely one of the first races, and their technology advanced over a very long time.
It's entirely possible that they then traveled time and wiped out evidence of their prior existence, and began living outside of time.
If the Q existed at the beginning of time (thanks to time travel) and still exist at the end of time, and can visit any point in the timeline, it's not inaccurate to say they "have always existed and will always exist", despite there being a time (in THEIR timeline) when they did not exist as they are.
Also, I don't think they posses omniscience - they've just been around a Really Long Time.
There is no canon explanation for the method by which the Q became as they are, nor is there any evidence to suggest that they were once humans from Earth.
The Q known as Quinn, in the episode "Death Wish" identifies that the Q's present state (as super-powerful beings) was not always the case;
At the beginning of the new era, life as a Q was a constant dialogue of discovery and issues and humor from all over the universe. But look at them now, listen to their dialogue now.
The Star Trek Encyclopedia states that the New Era began approximately 10,000 years previously. Assuming the New Era marks the point at which they gained godlike powers, there must by definition have been an "old era" in which they were not possessed of these powers.
Quinn also does away with the supposition that the Q are omnipotent;
Quinn : You mustn't think of us as omnipotent, no matter what The Continuum would like you to believe. You and your ship seem incredibly powerful to life-forms without your technical expertise. It's no different with us. We may appear omnipotent to you, but believe me, we're not.
Q (John de Lancie) flatly contradicts this in the Voyager episode "The Q and the Grey" when he tells Janeway;
Q: The Q didn't come into existence. The Q have always existed
At this point, it's worth stressing that although this conflicts with Q's article in the Trek Encyclopedia, his prior record of truth-telling is pretty questionable.
He also confirms (in TNG "Hide and Q") that although humanity is of interest to the Q because of our long-term potential, humans may some day be like the Q rather than actually becoming Q.
Q: At Farpoint we saw you as savages only. We discovered instead that you are unusual creatures in your own limited ways. Ways which in time will not be so limited.
RIKER: We're growing. Something about us compels us to learn, explore.
Q: Yes, the human compulsion. And unfortunately for us, it is a power which will grow stronger century after century, aeon after aeon.
RIKER: Aeons. Have you any idea how far we'll advance?
Q: Perhaps in a future that you cannot yet conceive, even beyond us.
First of all, to consider Q in terms we can truly grasp, we have to think linearly. But simply put, and for all practicality, they simply ARE gods and have always been. Any effort to explain further is mere speculation. Even to draw upon quotes of their dialog may require some philosophical interpretation. For example: Quinn says: "As the Q have evolved, we've sacrificed many things along the way, not just manners, but mortality and a sense of purpose and a desire for change and a capacity to grow. Each loss is a new vulnerability, wouldn't you say?" - and Quinn thinks that is explanation of why Q are not truly omnipotent.
To say they are not omniscient because they are surprised by anything is like saying Sisko can beat up a Q, The best explanation is, Q can 'withdraw' from his powers of invulnerability just as he can withdraw from knowing everything. Omniscience may simply work like saying, I don't know what time it is, because I don't look at the clock; At this moment, I don't wish to know, but if I need to, it is well within my power to draw upon this knowledge.
As the Q exist outside of time, there is no reason to assume that they have yet evolved into omniscience. Star Trek has frequently shown that humanity and other humanoid species were seeded from a common elder race - see TNG: The Chase. As we've seen many cases of successful inter-humanoid breeding (Human, Klingon, Vulcan, Romulan, etc.), it seems likely that given a few million years, they might evolve into a single species. Given a few million more that species could become Q.
I like many of the answers here, but none of them are complete despite being so detailed.
It's as simple as this, once the Q became transcendent, time became meaningless in the sense that the Q continuum now spans the entire continuum of existence including time from end to end if there is such a thing. Although you could place their origin on a timeline perhaps, once they transcended that origin becomes a rather meaningless detail that can't even be called history anymore.
Transcendence might have happened (past tense) 5 billion years in our future. We might be pre-historic Q. We don't know, and I don't think the Q know or remember either, or perhaps it's just something they don't tell us, but may have eluded to here or there guiding us toward our bright future.
For a race of their advancement, the Q are entirely too concerned with humans--particularly from Earth-- to be a race of their own. That would be like scientists being concerned with a particular amoeba.
The best speculative (no canon proof) explanation is that the Q used to BE humans from Earth, but somehow got super-powers like Gary Mitchell in the TOS episode "Where No Man has Gone Before," and so now they have a fascination with humans that they can't explain.
They also appeared after Kirk's time, so this incident would have to take place sometime between the two eras. The fact that it happened sometime during the war between the Federation and Klingon-Romulan alliance, would indicate that it was a Federation military experiment gone wrong, for example they tried to replicate the Gary Mitchell incident to gain advanced powers, as a 23rd-century "Manhattan Project."
As seen in the episode, the Q, like Gary Mitchell, would become irresponsible in their powers, and therefore dangerous-- unlike other super-advanced races such as the Organians and the Metrons, who were peaceful and civilized, they'd become immature and reckless like Trelane of Gothos, another young super-being.
A good guess would be that Kirk was against such an experiment, and had the power and influence in order to stop it regardless of the need; but after he was believed dead, then someone like Section 31 could go ahead with it... that could even be the man who turned out to be Q, along with the rest of the Q-- all former members of Section 31 and the experiment, who lost their memory of the incident in the process.
Otherwise, it's silly to concede that such an advanced actual civilization would be concerned with Earthlings.
I would say that being that Qs are out of time means that they would have no concept of a waste of time. So they would not see playing with humans, as Q did, as a waste of time becas they hve time to do anything. I seem to recall that the whole thrust of Q speaking to humans was not truly to judge but to learn from them. To see what makes humans strive, what make humans want to be better than they already are. So if the Qs were on the look out for desirable and promising species it would seem, from Roddenberry's point of view, that humans would be on the top of the list.
As too them actually being human, I don't think that is likely. This is because the entirety of the evidence to conclude that, is that Q's weren't around during TOS. The real reason being that Roddenberry hadn't solidified his ideas about supreme beings at the time. But you can see he wrestled with the ideas of supreme beings a couple of times and eventually took the characteristics of all of them and made one entity, Qs. What is more likely is that they were once human like, perhaps even the seed species mentioned earlier. And before they transcended into another dimension of being they left behind everything that is in the episode, "The Chase".
According to the timeline of the Star Trek books it states:
"2 Billion BCE - Beings, known as the Q Continuum, had manifested recently as a creative force to “oppose” the destructive potential of the Omega Continuum after it had been disrupted and the decay of the universe had accelerated. Unfortunately, the Q Continuum were unaware of how powerful they were and had caused whole solar systems to explode or disintergrate while they tried vainly to halt the growth of universal decay."
Hope that helps some.
I've always had a theory on the Q and why they are semi obsessed with humans. It's because they were once human and from earth, but from a parallel universe. TNG did confirme that parallel universes do exist. My theory is that in the Q's universe on their earth, they began life millions of years before we did on our earth. They figured out the multi-verse thing, and started visiting them. They found that in this universe they were WAYYY more advanced than anyone else in this one, to the point of being God like, so some of them stayed. They continued to evolve eventually becoming the continuum. Once that happened and they existed out of time, they they were changed in such a fundamental way, they "forgot" they were once human. That is why they have an unexplained pull towards humanity. This is just a theory I had
I believe the Q are a possible off-shoot mutant psychic race of humanity that yes was experimented upon to expand their psychic powers exponentially to the point where they became a cosmic race....The Traveler from Tao Alpha C....tells Wesley Crusher this that only a select of humans took this cosmic journey to the next level where thought and energy exist as one. Hence, Wesley took the first step out of time and space and went with the Traveler to explore other planes of existence. I believe that human mutants like Wesley who went "cosmic" are the race of the Q Continuum. Hence, for them them to become cosmic and be a part of the all-knowing source of higher consciousness they believe that they have always been this way. They became a part of the "I am that I am higher consciousness. Just like LUCY did in the movie LUCY 2014. LUCY technically was the first human to become like a "Q" that we know of.